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Vader is Love

Unusual GM Approach (It's treason then!)

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Hello. 

Last saturday our group of 4 decided to set up a short scenario. Notice: We play online with voice chat, so nobody sees the dice rolling or other interacting. 

I picked one of my older, not recently played characters: a Falleen marauder. 

Other players: Soldier and Mandalorian Powertech. 

Me and the soldier were approached by our contractor in a shady cantina, the Mandalorian was hired separately. 

It's the first time they work together. 

Long story short, we kidnapped a Hutt underling and delivered the package. Since we caused trouble, we wanted to leave the planet and asked the Mandalorian to take us with in his ship for a moderate payment. He agreed. 

Because of enemies in the spaceport, we wanted to stealth through, one after another. My Falleen went first and got to the hangar bay without problems and hid there. 

Then the soldier got to move. 

GM: Hard vigilance with setback for you. 

Player: No stealth? Okay... Failed check. 

GM: Okay... Well, 20 Strain damage in your back. 

Player: What happened? 

GM: You failed your roll, so you don't know. 

Mandalorian: I finish my work and move to my ship.

GM: The Falleen sees the mandalorian going into the hangar bay, his blasterrifle casually hold. 

My Falleen approaches the mandalorian, thinking of him as an ally. But the mandalorian tries to shoot my char (too), wins initiative and deals again 20 strain damage. 

Due to high soak, my character narrowly survived the attack and then managed to beat the mandalorian down. Needed 2 rounds, but a staff with extra weights (concussion is nasty) made me victorious here. 

Conclusion: after we delivered the package, the contractor told the mandalorian to kill the other characters to reduce the people who know about the contract (GM and player wrote text messages during the game). The soldier was shot in the back with stun and then got his throat cut. Same thing failed on my character. 

 

Though it's an interesting and unexpected turn, I have problems to accept that the GM kinda colluded with one player in secret and more or less tried to kill off the rest. The player of the soldier was upset, but had to leave early, so he missed the discussion after. 

I can accept a characters death, but this left a sour taste. GM told me it was a tough decision for him but since it's the underworld, I should better expect something like this. The mandalorian player said he didn't care about his character so it was okay to put him at risk. 

Yes, my character survived, but I'm very sure, if he'd died, GM and mandalorian player would have celebrated themselves for their genuine move and see my criticism as being a sore loser. 

But maybe I'm a bit small-minded or too upset, cause my character was the victim, I dunno. 

Anybody got thoughts on this? Maybe experienced similar? 

Thanks. 

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I've done (Had this done to me) once or twice in convention games.  Games where it's a known one-off game with pre-gen characters. However, it's not a good option for the start of an ongoing game online or otherwise.  From that point on, the players aren't going to trust anyone and the character who survives the ambush certainly won't trust the attacker at all. 

If the group has played together previously with no issues then look at this as a fluke and continue on (with different characters) but if this is the first time playing with these people, my advise is to move on and find others.

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I tend to think of RPGs as cooperative games by default. Which means that, if your GM wants to have this PvP aspect, they need to be up front about it.

That's not to say you can't run this type of campaign. Playing an "evil" campaign can be a lot of fun, but everyone needs to know right at the beginning so they can set their expectations accordingly. Your GM also needs to lay more groundwork to get the group together in the beginning.

In this case, I could have proceeded as you described, but then had an NPC attempt to betray the entire group, rather than convince one of the PCs to do it. The rest of the campaign would be dedicated towards getting revenge on the contractor—with substantial wealth and/or power at stake, giving the PCs reasons and occasional opportunities to off each other. (For best effect, be sure to sprinkle in some encounters where one of the PCs would have a swift path to victory. It keeps the group on their toes and makes them a little more reluctant to just straight-up murder each other, for fear that they might need someone later.)

However, if I'd been a player, I think I would excuse myself from future sessions.

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Echoing others here. If a GM (or player) wants to have PvP in the game, this needs to be agreed to by all players from the start. Something like this shouldn't arise spontaneously. The default assumption should be that all the PCs have a reason to adventure together and NOT kill one another, but that often requires a Session 0. In an ideal game, you wouldn't have all been total strangers; the Mandalorian should have shared a mentor with you, or he's married to your sister, or you saved his life in the academy, or you served time on Kessel together, etc. Those sorts of ties help players justify why their characters aren't backstabbing the other PCs.

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That's the kind of thing you do as a one-off. Or repeatedly, with different characters, and a different character survives each time, and THEN the group is made from those survivors. But even then it should be something that everyone knows about ahead of time, and those that die get pregens rather than putting any time into character creation.

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7 hours ago, Vader is Love said:

after we delivered the package, the contractor told the mandalorian to kill the other characters to reduce the people who know about the contract (GM and player wrote text messages during the game). The soldier was shot in the back with stun and then got his throat cut. Same thing failed on my character.... Anybody got thoughts on this? Maybe experienced similar? 

That's a total Richard way of doing it. Not just in a Game perspective, but also in a totally NOT STAR WARS kinda way.

GAME:

Never kill the players on a single roll. No matter how good. 

While you can't always do this, you should try not to. The game goes to great lengths (usually) to make it very hard if not impossible to one-shot kill a Player. There's a reason for this. Getting killed isn't fun. If you die, you want to go down fighting. 

Remember, Samuel L. Jackson made "not going down like a punk" part of the Mace Windu contract. Make that same contract with your players.

 

STAR WARS:

Everything is the dramatic incarnation of itself.

Star Wars almost always goes with the option that works best for the story, not logically. 

Yes, logically the Mando would just shoot the other players in the back and cut their throats. But that's not good theater. In Star Wars all three of them would get ambushed and have to fight their way out.

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28 minutes ago, Ghostofman said:

That's a total Richard way of doing it. Not just in a Game perspective, but also in a totally NOT STAR WARS kinda way.

GAME:

Never kill the players on a single roll. No matter how good. 

While you can't always do this, you should try not to. The game goes to great lengths (usually) to make it very hard if not impossible to one-shot kill a Player. There's a reason for this. Getting killed isn't fun. If you die, you want to go down fighting. 

Remember, Samuel L. Jackson made "not going down like a punk" part of the Mace Windu contract. Make that same contract with your players.

 

STAR WARS:

Everything is the dramatic incarnation of itself.

Star Wars almost always goes with the option that works best for the story, not logically. 

Yes, logically the Mando would just shoot the other players in the back and cut their throats. But that's not good theater. In Star Wars all three of them would get ambushed and have to fight their way out.

Actually, a true Mandalorian wouldn't simply shoot someone in the back anyway. They're warriors, not assassins, and very proud warriors at that. 

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32 minutes ago, Tramp Graphics said:

Actually, a true Mandalorian wouldn't simply shoot someone in the back anyway. They're warriors, not assassins, and very proud warriors at that. 

In EU they were all "proud warriors" to an idiotic extreme in many cases. In modern canon they are actually a bit more grounded, with individuals not so horribly tied to the extreme honor code, and more just fighters, guerillas, mercs, and soldiers. When you're talking about Mandos that even are still warriors...

Sabine probably wouldn't shoot you in the back. Bo Katan might. Pretty sure Pre Viszla or Fenn Rau Gar Saxon  would totally shoot someone in the back...

But that's minions, even some rivals that get shot in the back.

If Player Character get's shot in that back, it better be going somewhere cool, not just an execution, otherwise some other more traditional ambush is more appropriate.

Edited by Ghostofman

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4 minutes ago, Ghostofman said:

In EU they were all "proud warriors" to an idiotic extreme in many cases. In modern canon they are actually a bit more grounded, with individuals not so horribly tied to the extreme honor code, and more just fighters, guerillas, mercs, and soldiers. When you're talking about Mandos that even are still warriors...

Sabine probably wouldn't shoot you in the back. Bo Katan might. Pretty sure Pre Viszla or Fenn Rau Gar Saxon  would totally shoot someone in the back...

But that's minions, even some rivals that get shot in the back.

If Player Character get's shot in that back, it better be going somewhere cool, not just an execution, otherwise some other more traditional ambush is more appropriate.

Pre Viszla wouldn’t shoot people in the back, neither would Bo Katan. His whole beef with Duchess Satine’s pacifist “new Mandalorians” was their rejection of the Mandalorian Warrior tradition. He wanted a return to those traditions. Now Gar Saxon and his brother, on the other hand turned their backs on Mandalorian culture completely and we’re Imperial through and through. They had no honor, nor scruples, willing to even use a weapon that would turn a Mandalorian’s own armor against him. This is why they could never be acceptable as the Mand’alor. 

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15 minutes ago, Yaccarus said:

Death Watch aren’t true Mandalorians, while we’re at it. They have no honor.

Not in Legends, no. However while definitely more brutal than other groups of “Old Mandalorians” the canon Death Watch did still hold to the Mandalorian warriors ideals.  The biggest difference between Death Watch and other groups is their desire for conquest and overthrowing the current government, whereas other groups, such as the Legends “True Mandalorians” were more interested in working as mercenaries rather than conquerors.

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24 minutes ago, Yaccarus said:

Death Watch aren’t true Mandalorians, while we’re at it. They have no honor.

Oh good! No True Mandalorian... one of the official Star Wars version of the No True Scotsman fallacy.

There's also No True Jedi, No True Sith, and No True Rebel that can be found in other threads.

Edited by HappyDaze

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To be fair if it's handled well (and it does have to be done well, otherwise it just feels like it's in poor taste), player betrayal can work. It's a common trope in a lot of films, especially westerns. In the Good, the Bad and the Ugly it's a big part of the film Blondie betrays Tuco, Tuco betrays Blondie, but they have to work together for the the greater objective they're heading towards. It does make for some interesting interactions and storytelling. Admittedly that is a film, but if players have a good mesh it can work. 

In one of my groups I gm (don't worry pbp people, it's not any of your campaigns), one of the players is working for the empire as a member of the imperial intelligence. Though the other players don't know, we've planned a (hopefully) big epic reveal when it's revealed there is a traitor. The plan isn't for him to directly attack the players, but lead an attack on their rebel forces to try and destroy the base. Star Destroyer looming over the planet, waves of enemies to fight of in a desperate attempt to evacuate, that kind of thing. The idea is that it will set a tone similar to episode V, with the players trying to escape while salvaging what they can to start again somewhere else. The traitor pc will become a recurring NPC villain, leading the hunt for the fleeing rebels. My hope is that the players will like the shock of the reveal, as well as looking for vengeance against their former friend and ally.   

Of course this doesn't work for every group, it's very dependent on how well the group knows each other, what kind of game they want to play etc. My players like the grittier stuff of star wars (Rogue One etc), so I suspect they will enjoy this. If it's a bit of a lighter group, it's probably less suitable. 

Having said all this, shooting a team mate in the back is not something I really like in games. If I do use betrayal, I like it to be a bit more dramatic and extravagant. It feels a bit low (in my opinion) to just try kill of a player like I that. I know a lot of people appreciate the realism of that betrayal, but it doesn't fit in the games I run. 

Regarding mando's, there's so many versions of them you can really have them do what you want. They did bomb a planet into oblivion because they wouldn't come to fight, so shot in the back, well that's just practical. Vizla burnt a village to the ground because a weaker being told him what to do. If you wanted you could argue (from the mando's perspective) that if the target was more aware then they'd have gotten a good fight. They clearly weren't worthy.  

With the amount of material out there, you can work whatever you want with that species really. 

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I mean this is kind of the perfect setting for that kind of play.

Now, that said I had a very similar thing happen before the dawn of time in a Cyberpunk 2020 game.  My own brother was the player who pulled it on me.  I didn't react well then, but I was also 16 at the time.  But I learned something about setting there.  We were all playing criminal mercenaries.  

On the positive side, you had a very true moment in the game.  That can be a beautiful thing.  I think if you had been told that there would be betrayal in this game you would have acted differently.  You would have had your guard up.  Or if this had been the standard "we are all player characters therefore we must work together and cannot attack each other" you would have played in a different way. 

Years later I was playing one of the d20 editions.  I was a smuggler.  All the characters worked for a a warlord.  I had a ship crew and there were other operatives of the warlord who accompanied us to their (and his) ends.  In one game the Jedi characters actively kept us from fulfilling out goal (as in intentionally destroyed the mcguffin). PVP happened, the jedi got maimed and were offered up in exchange for the failure.  One of the Jedi players took this personally, we worked it out over coffee.  Turns out he was coming at this game from an "all the characters are essentially good, maybe the worst would be chaotic good."  I responded with "you've seen my character actively torture people and perform missions that destroy people's lives....what in the world makes you think he's any kind of good."  That gave him a different perspective on the game...and gaming in general.  I wasn't joking about being an evil character either.  Ultimately I prestige classed into Crime Lord and we took over a Hutt Kajidic.  I never even performed a single attack roll the entire campaign.  It felt pretty good to have people to do that sort of thing for me.  

The point to this long rambling story is that those players talk about that game 5 years later.  Now, we definitely learned our lessons after that and as a group got together numerous time to talk about what we wanted from certain games and settings and characters.  Positive metagaming is a wonderful thing and it can really enhance your games a lot.  

Maybe in the case the GM should have talked to you guys and you all could have sorted out what was on or off limits for the setting without him tipping his hand.  I mean not even maybe, definitely.  Hopefully you'll all do that in the future.  It can be as simple as something like this:

"Hey, so I'm going to run the Edge game.  I really want to do some seedy underbelly stuff.  Just keep in mind that you guys are protagonists, but not necessarily heroes.  Is everyone cool with that?  While we're at it are there any topics or themes that you want to explore or that you definitely want to avoid?"

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On 12/10/2018 at 7:28 PM, the mercenary said:

That's the kind of thing you do as a one-off. Or repeatedly, with different characters, and a different character survives each time, and THEN the group is made from those survivors. But even then it should be something that everyone knows about ahead of time, and those that die get pregens rather than putting any time into character creation.

I think pregens would work fine, especially when the GM states: be prepared for everything. 

 

On 12/10/2018 at 10:43 PM, Ghostofman said:

 

Never kill the players on a single roll. No matter how good. 

While you can't always do this, you should try not to. The game goes to great lengths (usually) to make it very hard if not impossible to one-shot kill a Player. There's a reason for this. Getting killed isn't fun. If you die, you want to go down fighting. 

Remember, Samuel L. Jackson made "not going down like a punk" part of the Mace Windu contract. Make that same contract with your players.

 

This. Is really great, thanks. A characters death in honor, while fighting or at least dying while committed to his cause is the most bearable I guess. 

And I will quote Mace Windu from now on :D

 

On 12/10/2018 at 11:13 PM, Tramp Graphics said:

Actually, a true Mandalorian wouldn't simply shoot someone in the back anyway. They're warriors, not assassins, and very proud warriors at that. 

This was a thing, too, because everyone fought bravely side by side with our mandalorian and more or less earned his respect. Another big point was his background, as he once was betrayed by a friend and fellow mandalorian. 

On 12/11/2018 at 12:46 AM, Rabobankrider said:

To be fair if it's handled well (and it does have to be done well, otherwise it just feels like it's in poor taste), player betrayal can work. It's a common trope in a lot of films, especially westerns. In the Good, the Bad and the Ugly it's a big part of the film Blondie betrays Tuco, Tuco betrays Blondie, but they have to work together for the the greater objective they're heading towards. It does make for some interesting interactions and storytelling. Admittedly that is a film, but if players have a good mesh it can work. 

In one of my groups I gm (don't worry pbp people, it's not any of your campaigns), one of the players is working for the empire as a member of the imperial intelligence. Though the other players don't know, we've planned a (hopefully) big epic reveal when it's revealed there is a traitor. The plan isn't for him to directly attack the players, but lead an attack on their rebel forces to try and destroy the base. Star Destroyer looming over the planet, waves of enemies to fight of in a desperate attempt to evacuate, that kind of thing. The idea is that it will set a tone similar to episode V, with the players trying to escape while salvaging what they can to start again somewhere else. The traitor pc will become a recurring NPC villain, leading the hunt for the fleeing rebels. My hope is that the players will like the shock of the reveal, as well as looking for vengeance against their former friend and ally.   

Of course this doesn't work for every group, it's very dependent on how well the group knows each other, what kind of game they want to play etc. My players like the grittier stuff of star wars (Rogue One etc), so I suspect they will enjoy this. If it's a bit of a lighter group, it's probably less suitable. 

Having said all this, shooting a team mate in the back is not something I really like in games. If I do use betrayal, I like it to be a bit more dramatic and extravagant. It feels a bit low (in my opinion) to just try kill of a player like I that. I know a lot of people appreciate the realism of that betrayal, but it doesn't fit in the games I run. 

 

My group always loved playing in a darker setting, but betrayal has been something, that developed between group members due to different world (galaxy?) views and evolved slowly over several sessions until a final clash results in violence or leaving the party. 

Your story sounds awesome and I like the approach. It is planned ahead and not I just had this idea midsession and textmessage a player to kill the rest. 

A betrayal should at least leave possibilities to act for the players. 

 

Edited by Vader is Love

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would have been good if it would have been a game used as a test (or a quick game with character already defined wihout backstories) where characters would be discarded at the end of it regardless ....

 

if its to be a game for the long run, i would favor coop and building a story together.....not to say that things cannot happen between character, but nothing set in motion by the GM that would lead to the death of characters...

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